Discovering The Watch List with Joseph Mitcham

watch list cover new

One of the joys of blogging is discovering new, and new to me, authors. When Joseph Mitcham told me about his debut novel I simply had to invite him onto Linda’s Book Bag to tell me more about it. Luckily he agreed to stay in with me, explain more and share an extract.

Staying in with Joseph Mitcham

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Joseph. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

watch list cover new

The Watch List is my debut novel, so you’re stuck with that for now! I’m halfway through the first draft of the second book; the next in the Atrocities Series.

Sounds like an exciting time for you Joseph. Congratulations on your new series. What can we expect from an evening in with The Watch List?

A healthy dose of intensity from a story told in a harsh reality. It’s a hard-hitting military techno-thriller that explores what might happen if the UK Terror Watch List got into the hands of a group of well-trained Service veterans. I’ve taken insights from my own service to give the book an edge of authenticity that seems to be hitting the right notes with others who’ve served – this makes great reading for those who haven’t (so I’m learning from my reviews).

Oh – this sounds like an exciting version of write what you know. Tell me more.

The book is gritty and detailed when it comes to the meat of the story, but if you make it through the first chapter – you’ll be all right! The real tough part of the book is the ethical battle that the team is faced with, particularly for Alex, the lead character who is a thoughtful kind of guy. I’m proud of the fact that my ‘hero’ is not your typical ‘warrior type’, he is the sensitive soldier; I found this a key factor in making the book credible and original. I have gone to lengths to communicate how battle situations don’t come naturally to all soldiers, even some of the ex-special forces characters in the book.

I think we tend to forget that our service people are just that – people. 

I’ve been blown away by some of the feedback that I’ve had in reviews. Key themes are that The Watch List is gripping, ‘unputdownable’ – many readers have finished it in one or two sittings. Others comment on the level of realism and how it has opened their minds to the current terror situation.

You must be thrilled to have that kind of reaction. The Watch List certainly sounds a fabulous read to me and I’m delighted to have it on my TBR.

What else have you brought along and why?

quince gin

I’ve brought a few Jamiroquai and Moby albums that are perfect for a couple of the lighter chapters in the book, and they’ll be comforting whilst reading the gnarly bits! I’ve got a photo of a buddy on mine who was killed in tour whilst we were deployed in Afghanistan, 2006; his death taught me an immense amount about soldiering and this is reflected in the book. I had to bring a bottle of quince gin to toast a good evening’s read – have you got any tonic?

I have Joseph. I’ve never tried quince gin so I think it would be perfect to toast your colleague too. You pour the drinks whilst I tell everyone a bit more about The Watch List. Thank you so much for staying in and telling me more about it.

The Watch List

watch list cover new

Sixty-eight dead and nearly three hundred injured in a hostile vehicle and bomb attack on a community festival in Birmingham, the country is in shock.

Battling the mental turmoil of the aftermath, Alex, a former Army communications specialist, stumbles across the UK Terror Watch List – he cannot resist the challenge of stealing the list from under the nose of his contract supervisor, Lucy Butler, a razor sharp and headstrong Intelligence Corps corporal with big ambitions.

Wrestling with his conscience and the ethics of tackling unconvicted suspects, Alex enlists the help of famed former UK Special Forces Warrant Officer, Craig Medhurst. Alex struggles to win the respect of Craig’s core team, but together they hatch a daring plan to act on their selected targets. Can Alex use his charm to persuade Corporal Butler to join them?

The Watch List is available for purchase here and in case that has whetted your appetite, here’s an extract for you to enjoy:

An Extract From The Watch List

{BEGINNING OF} CHAPTER 12 – A PINT

“Are you sure you’re up to this mentally, Alex? There’s no shame in walking away and leaving us to it you know mate; we’ve got plenty of communications experts in our network.”

“No way.” Alex says, not quite convincingly. “I know that this project is what I want. Every time I see footage of the Birmingham victims, those poor kids – no, this needs to happen and I’ll be proud to be a part of it.”

“It does Alex, and it will, but that’s not what I asked, I asked if you were up to it. There’s no shame if you’re not. I’ve seen the toughest of guys crumble mentally when their hearts are not completely in something as challenging as this.”

“You don’t think I’m up to it?”

“Listen Alex, it doesn’t matter what I think, there’s no way I can judge, it’s for you to decide.”

“Can’t a man of your experience tell who’s got the minerals and who hasn’t?”

“All I know is that you’re untested in that way Alex. Even if you’d been through the mill like me and my boys, that’s still no guarantee.” Craig looks into his pint glass thoughtfully.

“You’ve been caught by surprise before then?”

Craig lowers his voice further, “Listen, I’ve seen some of the worst action encountered by my former regiment, which by definition, is about the worst that anyone anywhere could have been exposed to, so I have difficulty in understanding why others, including some of my closest comrades, have succumbed to mental health dramas, PTSD and all that. I don’t pretend to understand it and I don’t judge, not anymore.”

“That sounds like a hard lesson learned?” Alex says whilst trying to make eye contact, but Craig is solemn, with his head down firmly over his pint.

“I saw it first hand when my best mate committed suicide shortly after leaving the service.”

“Oh Craig, I’m sorry.”

My best mate, Gaz, flung himself down the stairwell in his swanky flat, leaving himself hanging a couple of feet off the floor in his living-room. The cleaner found him the next day.”

“And you never saw it coming?”

“I’d known him forever. We met on soldier selection at Pirbright and we went through every stage of our careers together – purely by chance at first, but we became tight in the Anglians and decided to give selection a go together; we made sure that we’d follow the same path – we were like brothers… more than brothers. He was an emotional kind of guy on a different level to me; he’d cry like a baby after every kill – a lot of tears. The years took their toll, forcing him from service before his time, and compounded with the shock of civvy street, it all became too much.”

“Jesus.” Alex doesn’t know what else to say.

“I’ve done some serious soul-searching whilst mourning Gaz, but without tears. I just find myself zoning out thinking about him, and his situation, from time to time. As much as mourning my friend, I’ve had my own internal struggle to come to terms with.” Alex becomes conscious that Craig’s reassuring pep talk is turning into his own counselling session – he is unsure of what to do or say, but carries on listening intently.

“Is there something wrong with me? Why do I feel nothing about the things I’ve seen, done or been exposed to? I have this creeping feeling that there is something deeply wrong with me and that it could spill out at any moment, like it’s in the post and there’s nothing I can do about it. I know myself as an openly emotional person in other ways, I’d get a wobbly chin from a heated exchange in the NAAFI, or a lump in the throat watching DIY SOS, but the dead or dying on the battlefield, even my own men – not a flicker. Something is definitely amiss and there surely must be some sort of mental deficit to be repaid.”

Alex tries to respond with feeling; “I’ve not seen anything like what you’ve seen. One of my mates was killed on tour, but I wasn’t there. Another guy I knew from basic training was killed in a vehicle accident on the area, but things like that happen, they don’t really affect you that badly. I can’t begin to imagine losing close mates the way that you have. To be honest I don’t know what affect our project will have on me. All I know is that I want to be a part of it and that I’m willing to take the consequences of our actions.”

“That’s honourable Alex, but you keep thinking about it.”

The two men turn to their pints for a moment of silence. Alex tries to put his experience in perspective with Craig’s, and struggles to fathom how he must be feeling – the torment that he must wrestle with every night before he goes to sleep. He thinks of how he might cope with the guilt that he may feel for the executed targets, and whether the saving of lives that he expects to achieve from this mission can provide sufficient recompense.

*

(I don’t know about you, but I really want to know what happens here!)

About Joseph Mitcham

Author Bio Photo (1)

Joseph Mitcham served with the British military, in elite and technical units, for over 16 years. His service not only gave him a thorough tactical and technical understanding of some of the techniques and processes employed in his first novel, it also provided him with the opportunity to develop himself, earning a first class honours degree in business leadership.

The inspiration for writing ‘The Watch List’ was taken from personal experiences from the roles that he has served in, and characteristics from some of the people that he has served with.

Joseph has written an incredible, yet compellingly credible story that plays out in our world as he sees it today.

For further information you can follow Joseph on Twitter @MitchamJoseph.

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